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Justine (Alexandria Quartet) Paperback – July 12, 1991
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About the Author
Lawrence Durrell was born in 1912 in India. He attended the Jesuit College at Darjeeling and St. Edmund's School, Canterbury. His first literary work, The Black Book, appeared in Paris in 1938. His first collection of poems, A Private Country, was published in 1943, followed by the three Island books: Prospero's Cell; Reflections on a Marine Venus, about Rhodes; and Bitter Lemons, his account of life in Cyprus. Durrell's wartime sojourn in Egypt led to his masterpiece, The Alexandria Quartet, which he completed in southern France, where he settled permanently in 1957. Between the quartet and The Avignon Quintet he wrote the two-decker Tunc and Nunquam. His oeuvre includes plays, a book of criticism, translations, travel writing, and humorous stories about the diplomatic corps. Caesar's Vast Ghost, his reflections on the history and culture of Provence, including a late flowering of poems, was published a few days before his death in Sommières in 1990.
Top customer reviews
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For me this is not a good book today.
Here's the problem. In the first page or three of the actual book, Durrell throws in a note. It is marked with an asterisk, and you have to turn to about the last page of the book to read the note. On the next page, Durrell does the same thing, an asterisk, and off you go to the back of the book again. There are around ten such notes in the first book "Justine". They are all on a page of notes and referenced by the page number on which the asterisk occurs. This is not a great way to do footnotes (end notes, really) but it works if there aren't a lot of them. However, whoever created this Kindle edition didn't make the footnotes active. DOH! AND there is no active table of contents. DOH! again! That means the reader is going to have to figure out by trial and error where the notes occur. Now, if you have bought each book seperately. This is a minor hassle (although I would argue there shouldn't be ANY hassle when you are paying full price for a Kindle book). You just use the menu to "go to the end" and then page backward until you hit the notes. BUT, if you have bought the one volume edition, does this approach still work? Or do you have to hunt for the one quarter mark of the whole thing and then hunt around some more to find the end of Justine, and then hunt around some more for the notes page? No way do I have time and patience for that.
It may just be me, but it seems to me that if a publisher is going to charge almost $14.00 for a Kindle edition, they ought to make the table of contents active AND make the notes active. There is simply no excuse for not doing at least the latter thing.
So, sadly, I have returned this (citing quality issues) and will simply read the quartet in paperback next time. Too bad!
It is not an easy read. It is not full of banal dialogue or easily digestible platitudes. It is composed of mellifluous and thoughtful utterances, indelible landscapes, and psychological/metaphysical nuances (yes, nuances!). This is a book that all writers need to read. It offers you a porthole into the headspace of a fellow artist, tormented, self deprecating, yet proud at the same time.
Arabs, Jews, Copts, and Kabbalists collide, coexist, and sometimes even influence eachother in the Alexandria Quartet. Watching the way these religions served as cultural molds instead of moral guidelines served as a barometer for the times juxtaposing the religious extremism that has made such a comeback in the Middle East today. Egypt has been written about since the beginning of time, and the Middle East is the origin of civilization as we know it. Alexandria is the backdrop for a pre/post WWII drama and is rife with adultery, prostitution, STDs, alcoholism, foreign affairs, and most importantly to me; the loyalty that unifies family and friends.
This book tops my Great Books List...a list that includes Tolstoy, Joyce, Proust, etc... If you are willing to put in the time and effort required for this masterpiece of English literature, you will be handsomely rewarded.
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